Hardwood Flooring Types Explained

Hardwood Flooring is the most popular & luxurious flooring option.

View Solid ProductsView Engineered Products

Hardwood Flooring Types Explained

Hardwood Flooring is the most popular & luxurious flooring option.

View Solid ProductsView Engineered Products

Hardwood Flooring Types Explained

Hardwood Flooring is the most popular & luxurious flooring option.

View Solid ProductsView Engineered Products

Increase the Value of Your Home

Hardwood raises the value of your home with an upscale, timeless look.

Life-Long Good Looks

This type of floor never goes out of style and lasts for years.

ECO-FRIENDLY

It’s the best floor for those who suffer from allergies plus it contributes to a healthier indoor air quality.
Hardwood Flooring comes in two types, Solid Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood. The core difference between solid and engineered lies in the structure of the planks. Each type has its own benefits and limitations for use. Let’s dive in deeper.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Is Simply Real Wood, Engineered for All Areas of Your Home

What is engineered hardwood and how is it made?

Engineered hardwood planks are constructed, or engineered as the name suggests, from multiple layers. The top layer, also called wear layer, is still a 100% real wood. Other layers, made up of plywood, are stacked in opposite directions and bonded together.

Engineered Hardwood is built with the ply-base and real wood top layer for several reasons & serves multiple purposes.

  • It increases the dimensional stability of the planks, which also allows for stronger, wider planks.
  • The top wear layer can be sanded/refinished multiple times.
Tip: The thickness of the wear layer ranges from 2mm to 8mm. A 2mm allows you to sand/refinish at least once. A 3 mm allows for about 2.5 times, 4mm about 3.5 times, and a 6mm (equivalent to solid hardwood) allows for 5-6 times.
  • Engineered hardwood can handle humidity levels better than solid. That means less expansion and contraction over time. It is much more stable than solid and doesn’t wrap or hump the way solid does.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Installation

Engineered Hardwood Flooring is very versatile when it comes to installation.

  • It can be glued down, nailed, floated. The ply-base in engineered planks allows for installation in all areas and levels of your home along with the ability to glue to concrete slab and in some cases it’s compatible with radiant heating.
Note: We don’t recommend gluing down solid hardwood. Only engineered floors can be glued down.
  • It can be installed below ground level, on ground level, and above ground level.
  • Engineered flooring can be installed in higher moisture areas such as basements or kitchens, especially if you want to maintain a consistent look throughout your home or office.
Note: If you’re looking for a 100% waterproof floor for areas such as bathrooms, we recommend luxury vinyl flooring.

Engineered Flooring Durability

Engineered Flooring is a long-lasting, durable, beautiful, and low-maintenance choice. Prefinished engineered hardwood is especially durable because of the factory-applied coating.

Engineered Flooring Durability


Engineered Flooring is a long-lasting, durable, beautiful, and low-maintenance choice. Prefinished engineered hardwood is especially durable because of the factory-applied coating.
Note: All German Flooring products are pre-finished which saves you time, money, installation costs, and is more convenient than unfinished floors. Finishes applied by the manufacturer last longer and can go years without needing to be refinished.

While engineered flooring is very durable and scratch-resistant, the biggest determining factor in scratch-resistance comes down to you specific floor’s wood specie and finish type.

Hardwood floors come in a variety of different wood species such as, hickory, oak, maple, walnut, etc. Each of the wood species has a “Janka Hardness Rating” that determines how durable that specific floor is.

Acacia and hickory are considered very durable especially when paired with a finish such as “polyurethane with built in aluminum oxide”.

Tip: To pick the right specie and finish, consult one of our flooring experts to guide you in picking the right floor for your needs. Give us a call or contact us now.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid Hardwood is Classic, Timeless & Authentic

Solid hardwood planks are simply milled from real wood and left at that. They are made up of a solid piece of wood and nothing else. The benefits of solid hardwood are:

  • They are a classic choice that have been used for hundreds of years.
  • Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished about 5 to 6 times.
  • It is an eco-friendly choice with a natural look.
Tip: Solid hardwood expands and contracts with relative humidity levels. If you are worried about moisture or humidity, consider engineered hardwood floors.

Solid Hardwood Installation

Solid can be glued or nailed to a wood subfloor.

Note: We don’t recommend gluing down solid to a concrete slab.

Solid hardwood can be installed on or above ground level. We don’t recommend installing it below ground level such as in basements or any moisture prone areas.

Hardwood Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Engineered Hardwood vs. Solid Hardwood?

A Solid Hardwood plank is cut to size and left at that. Simply milled as the name says, a “SOLID” product.
An Engineered Hardwood plank consists of different layers in which the top layer is the finished Hardwood and the base layers are Plywood or a wood substitute, such as a Pine or Birch, also known as a Solid Core VS. Ply-base. This method of Engineering results in increased dimensional stability which gives the Engineered Hardwood many benefits, some of which are:

  • It prevents the floor from warping due to moisture.
  • Wider, stronger planks for a longer-lasting stable floor.
  • Glue down the Engineered Hardwood directly to your concrete slab.
  • Install the Engineered Hardwood Below Grade level such as a basement, on Grade Level, and Above Grade Level.
  • Install the Engineered Hardwood over Radiant Heating.
  • Sand and Re-finish your Engineered Hardwood.
What preparation is necessary before installing hardwood floors?
The amount of preparation necessary depends on your specific situation and the current condition of your floors. Engineered hardwood can be installed directly to a concrete slab or wood subfloor and it allows for glue, nail, or float installation. Solid hardwood can be glued or nailed to a wood subfloor only. Contact us for help with your specific situation. Our flooring experts can make sure you don’t make a costly mistake.
When ordering hardwood flooring how much extra should I order to allow for waste?
You should add about 10% extra and on wider planks such as 9-1/2″ wide add up to 15% extra to allow for waste and cutting. This also depends on your skill level, which is why we always recommend using a licensed flooring contractor for installation.
Should I expect my hardwood floor to have color variations?
Yes. Since hardwood flooring is a natural product (solid and engineered), you should expect color variations in the wood. Variation also varies from species to species and the type of quality, wood grade, finish, stain, ect.. Although you should expect some variation, there are hardwoods with very minimal to none visible to the naked eye.
Can I install hardwood flooring if I have a dog or other indoor pets?
Many homes with indoor pets choose hardwood flooring. Keep in mind that a pet’s nails can scratch the finish of your floor, therefore, it is best to trim and clip your pets’ nails routinely. Speak to one of our professionals to determine the floor that best suits your needs or consider our Kid-Proof & Pet-Proof Luxury Vinyl Planks which are 100% Waterproof.
Can I install hardwood flooring in the basement?
You can install engineered hardwood flooring below-ground level (in the basement) because it can withstand excess moisture. However, we don’t recommend installing solid hardwood flooring in your basement or any below-ground level in general.
How does moisture affect my hardwood flooring?
Excessive moisture can lead to numerous changes to your floor. It is highly recommended that you do not use water to clean (mop) your floors. Hardwood floors that are contained within a temperature/humidity range of 6 to 9% will perform better and the expansion and contraction will be reduced to its minimum.
How do I clean and maintain my hardwood flooring?
To have a better understanding of how to clean and maintain your hardwood flooring, please refer to your flooring guide to get an understanding of the type of finish that’s on your floor. German Flooring recommends Bona Products which specialize in all the different flooring types to help clean and maintain your floors.
Is engineered flooring more expensive than solid hardwood?
Generally speaking, Yes. Engineered hardwood is more expensive than solid hardwood flooring. But when it comes to price, there are a few determining factors.

For example, a standard solid hardwood plank is (3/4″ x 5″ Wide X Random Lengths) and a standard engineered hardwood plank is a (1/2″ x 2mm Veneer x 7 1/2″ Wide x Random Lengths). If we compare these two, they range about the same price, given they are the same wood species. The solid can be sanded about 5-6 times while the engineered only about 2 times. But if we upgrade the wear layer to a 6mm to match the sandable surface of the Solid 3/4″ plank, your price on the engineered hardwood can increase drastically.

In conclusion, engineered hardwood is an advanced version of the solid hardwood with increased dimensional stability, therefore costing a little more money. A very important factor to keep in mind when comparing prices of engineered hardwood against solid hardwoods is the quality. Anything thinner than 1/2″ x 2mm wear layer and especially an HDF (High-Density Fiberboard) base compared to a Ply-base/Solid Core will be on the low end for a much cheaper quality and price.

What are the benefits of engineered wood flooring?
Engineered hardwood comes with all the benefits of solid hardwood and much more. Majority of all these benefits are due to the ply-base and are also found within the top wear layer of the plank. Given that we know engineered hardwood is real wood, we know that the top layer gives us all the benefits and beauty of natural wood or solid hardwood flooring. Due to the ply-layers, engineered hardwood also has increased dimensional stability resulting in a whole array of benefits:

  • A much larger selection of style and sizes with planks as wide as 12 inches plus.
  • Glue, Nail, or Floating Installation.
  • Ability to install hardwood even in areas with higher moisture content such as a basement or below ground level.
  • Less Expansion and Contraction which results in tighter seams from board to board, even longterm over an extended period of time.
  • Consistency with one floor installed in Entire house over wood subfloor or concrete.
  • Install over Heated Floor System.
  • Sand and Refinish your floors and make them look brand new just like you would for solid hardwood.
What rooms are best suited for engineered wood flooring in a home?
Thanks to the ply-layers of the engineered hardwood, it can be installed in pretty much all areas of your home.

Since the floor is less prone to expansion and contraction to relative humidity levels, it can be installed below ground level in basements and directly glued to concrete or glue/nail to your wood subfloor for one consistent floor in the entire home. This leaves it up to you to decide where you would like to install your engineered hardwood, living rooms, bedrooms, hallways and all of the above.

Some areas of concern are primarily bathrooms and laundry as there is always water involved in one way or another. Large areas such as living and family rooms along with unique staircases will always be on the top of the list for areas to install hardwood as the bigger the room the more of the natural wood to attract the eye.

What floor types can engineered hardwood be installed over?
Engineered hardwood can be installed over solid concrete and/or wood subfloor, which are the two main foundation types for homes. Due to the ply-layers, both of these surfaces are compatible allowing for glue, nail or float Installation.

If there are any existing floor types and interest in installing on top of what’s already there, please consult a licensed flooring contractor. Depending on the floor type, you could be taking a risk that will void your warranty and cause long/short term defects. Be sure to refer to the warranty of the actual product.

How thick is the hardwood veneer for engineered hardwood?
The hardwood veneer or the wear layer of the engineered hardwood ranges in thicknesses up to 8mm. Generally speaking, the thicknesses can get out of control with all the different sizes. But, for peace of mind, our understanding, and to set the foundation of the thickness, the standard quality thickness ranges from 2mm to 6mm Veneer. The 2mm allowing you to sand or refinish the floor at least once, and the 6mm being equivalent to the sandable surface of the solid hardwood, which can be sanded about 5-6 times.

Anything thinner than a 2mm risks scratching beyond the wear layer, exposing the wood underneath and doesn’t allow for refinishing your floors. If you don’t plan on refinishing your floors, then that’s an affordable way to go with engineered hardwoods. With that being said, anything less than a 2mm is falling off the grid and anything thicker than a 6mm is overrated.

Can engineered hardwood be sanded and refinished?
When it comes to engineered hardwood flooring, it’s all about the wear layer, especially if sanding and refinishing your flooring is of the essence.

Given that the wear layer on the hardwood is 2mm or more, you have the option of sanding and refinishing your flooring. You can sand/refinish a 2mm about 1.5 times, 3mm about 2.5 times, 4mm about 3.5 times, ect. Even though there are some floors that have an 8mm wear layer and some that have less than a 2mm, generally speaking, the wear layer of a nice standard engineered hardwood ranges from a 2mm to 6mm.

A 6mm Wear Layer being equivalent to the sandable surface of a Solid Hardwood, can be refinished about 5 or 6 times. The thicker wear layers add up to the longevity of your floors with the ability to make them look brand new again and again.

Do engineered wood floors scratch easily?

Scratch resistance is determined by the species of the wood and the type of finish. If there is a cause for concern, there are three main factors to keep in mind when you buy engineered hardwood floors: species, finish, and surface character.

Species such as Ipe, Brazilian Teak, and Brazilian Cherry are known for having a high rating on the Janka Scale, which measures the hardness of the wood. But, generally speaking, Acacia and Hickory are on the higher end of difficulty to scratch/dent, Oak and Maple fall somewhere in the middle, and Walnut and Birch are on the softer end, making them most prone to scratching.

The finish on the hardwood is also intended to protect against scratching and normal wear & tear. There are many types of finishes but the two most popular are the Polyurethanes and the Oil finishes. The polyurethanes are known to have a higher resistance to scratching and the oils are known for the natural beauty radiating from the hardwood floors.

One of the final factors to keep in mind and equally important especially when it comes to looks, is the surface character. Characteristics such as distressed marks, saw marks, chiseled edges, and the more traditional looking floors with the hand-scrape finish will be a lot more forgiving when it comes to scratches, especially when compared to the smooth shiny finishes which just seem to attract and point out every little imperfection.

By choosing the harder species, combined with a stronger finish, your hardwood can be at the top of the list as far as how hard it is to scratch.

Are engineered wood floors durable?
Durability refers to the top layer of the engineered hardwood’s ability to resist scratching and normal wear & tear, many times generalized on how “tough” the floor really is. A nice thicker floor, usually a ply-base 1/2″ x 2mm wear layer and thicker, combined with a stronger species of the wood and a more durable type of finish can be well equipped to be considered very durable.
Is engineered hardwood fake?
This is a misconception that a lot of people have about engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered Hardwood is Real Wood! An engineered plank is made up of several layers of wood that are pressed and glued together allowing for increased dimensional stability, a wider selection of sizes and styles, and overcoming some of the limitations of solid hardwood planks. The top layer of an engineered hardwood floor after installation is identical to that of the solid hardwood.
What rooms are best suited for solid wood flooring in a home?
Solid wood flooring works best in rooms that are on or above ground level and have low moisture levels such as living rooms, dining rooms, offices, and bedrooms. It is best to avoid installing it in bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
Can a solid hardwood floor be floated?
No, we don’t recommend floating for solid floors. Solid wood flooring should be glued or nailed to a wood subfloor.
Can I expect my solid hardwood floor to have color variations?
Yes. Solid hardwood flooring is a natural product. Therefore, you should expect there will be natural color variations in the wood. Although lower grades of flooring will have a larger number of character blemishes, you can expect color variations in all grades.
Which solid hardwood flooring installation method is best?
Solid Hardwood is best paired with a wood subfloor which will allow for nail/staple down over a moisture barrier. This is the best and most preferred option. If you have a concrete slab, please consider an Engineered Hardwood.
Still have questions or need guidance with picking the right floor for your needs? Contact us to speak with a flooring expert.

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